He admitted to ditching his previously “very libertarian” approach to people’s weight but shied away from imposing more so-called sin taxes to hike up the cost of unhealthy food. “We certainly must have a care for the health of our population and we will be happier and fitter and more resistant to diseases like Covid if we can tackle obesity,” he told Times Radio. Mr Johnson said obesity is “hugely costly for the NHS” and cannot be ignored by politicians. “Everybody knows it is a tough one but I think it is something we all need to address,” he added.
The PM wrote a column for a national newspaper in 2004 arguing that it was people’s “own fat fault” if they were obese and “the more the state tries to take responsibility for the problem, the less soluble the problem will become”.
In yesterday’s radio interview, Mr Johnson distanced himself from “embarrassing” articles he has written in the past.
But he sidestepped questions over whether he would now become an “interventionist” to stop people eating too much.
Instead he is expected to focus on wider availability of fitness and healthy eating programmes and increased use of gastric bands to help people battling the bulge.
“How you talk about it, how you address it, how you practically make the difference, that’s what we are looking at,” he said.
The Prime Minister insisted he was fit and well following his period in intensive care and told how he had lost weight while fighting for his survival.
Explaining pictures of him at the weekend doing press ups, he said it was “was to demonstrate that I was fit, or fit-ish”.
He added: “When I came out of hospital I did notice that there were occasional pieces in the papers saying I was looking a bit wraith-like or something.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer jokingly challenged the PM to a press-up contest.
“I was thinking at PMQs this week maybe question one should be, you know, first to 50,” he said.